Hertsmere votes

The count for the Hertsmere local elections and referendum that took place on 5 May 2011

The nice people at Herstmere’s communications department are doing a great job today keeping electors up-to-date with the count in the local elections and the referendum on voting reform that took place yesterday.

They’re using Twitter to post regular updates and pictures (like the one above, from the count itself). Yesterday they alerted us to the fascinating fact that not everyone who gets a postal vote uses it!

Have you voted yet? Of around 9,000 postal votes sent out we have about 6,000 returned.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

And earlier today, they estimated the turnout for the elections:

A rough indication of overall turnout is 35% but we will hopefully be clarifying soon! Counters are still very busy…less than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

And provided the actual turnout for the referendum when it became available:

#hertsmere referendum turnout 40%. 28,905 voted. 22,721 at stations. 6,184 by post. We will keep u posted on local results as we get them!less than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

As I type this they’re relaying the results, ward-by-ward as they come in, like this one from one minute ago:

#Borehamwood Kenilworth labour Richard Butler electedless than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

Chris Hewett in the Watford Observer picks up the Liberal wipe-out at 1.15.

Harv Cohen, a Conservative councillor tweets with mixed news for the Tories:

Good news for #conservatives #hertsmere, Sam Dobin has held the seat for us , we have taken all Bushey ,unfortunately lost Kenilworthless than a minute ago via HTC Peep Favorite Retweet Reply

For me, as an elector, this poll has been transformed by social media. Where I might have been able to get results in real-time in the past, I had never bothered to. With details of the poll, the count and the result coming to me via Twitter, though, I’m significantly better-engaged. And the local authority’s willingness to use its own social media accounts to spread the word is a genuine public service. Well done Hertsmere.

The farmers’ market has landed

Peter McCarthy from McCarthy's Country Store, at Radlett farmers' market
Peter McCarthy from McCarthy's Country Store.

I nipped down to Newberries car park – the one behind Budgen’s – this morning to experience the first day of operation of Radlett’s experimental farmers’ market. About a dozen stalls with a good range of produce – meat, bread, cheese, plants and honey plus a couple of slightly more offbeat products – were all present and the place was quite busy. Stallholders told me they were pleased with the turnout, especially for day one. The market is run by a large specialist firm and the stallholders present were all professionals in this game. I suspect this is the case with most ‘farmers’ markets’ these days. Not the bucolic, self-organising, community-driven ideal you may have been expecting. Peter McCarthy, whose McCarthy’s Country Store pitches up at over thirty markets per month, told me he’d expect the Radlett market to do well.

I had a particularly nice chat with Mr and Mrs Gorski, whose Hertfordshire Honey stall stocked only the product of their own hives in Benington near Stevenage. Consequently I am significantly better-informed about the different types of honey, about the flowering of hazels and willows and about the booming honey market than I was this morning. Ask me anything. Mr Gorski told me they sell everything they produce and thus won’t be needing any further publicity. Hence no photo of Mr Gorski!

As to the produce, I can confirm that the Gorskis’ light honey is delicious and that the sourdough stilton and raisin bread from Redbournbury Watermill is mindblowing with a bit of cheese on it. The market is set to run on the third Sunday of the next two months, so the next one will be on 15th May.

Did you go down to the market? What did you think? Will it be a hit? Or is the location a bit too well-hidden (that’s my concern)? Leave a comment below. Sadly I only had my iPhone on me so the pictures are a bit rubbish – more here, though and Clive Glover has some more pics and some interesting background on the three-month trial on his Radlett blog. And, by the way, there was a terrific Food Programme about the mother of all farmers’ markets – Borough Market – on Radio 4 today. Well worth a listen.

Honey from Hertfordshire Honey in Benington
Honey from Hertfordshire Honey in Benington.
Peter Coleman from Laycroft Free Range Poultry
Peter Coleman from Laycroft Free Range Poultry
Martin from Redbournbury Watermill at Radlett farmers' market
Martin from Redbournbury Watermill. Martin wins 'Best Facial Adornment' for this month by a mile.
Bread from Redbournbury Watermill at Radlett farmers' market
Bread from Redbournbury Watermill, including a killer raisin and stilton sourdough.

Loud and exciting – science at Fair Field

A remarkable morning of science at Fair Field Juniors last week. It was National Science and Engineering Week so parents (and scientists) Susan Branigan, Anita Kelly and Lisa Illingworth-Law came into the school (on Red Nose Day) and set up dozens of science demonstrations in the hall. During the morning, every child at the school had an opportunity to play and to learn.

I spent 45 minutes with one of the year 3 classes (I’m chair of governors at the school) and saw – and heard – activities about the body, sound, colour, and forces. It was immense fun and the children were inspiring – soaking it all up and explaining the demonstrations to each other as they went from activity to activity. I hope the school’s parent-scientists can be persuaded to do this regularly!

I recorded a montage of sounds from the session: click the play button to listen here or sign up for the Radlett Wire podcast on iTunes to download regular items about Radlett to your computer or MP3 player.

Download the MP3.

Standing room-only for anti-incinerator meeting

The WING group's anti-incinerator public meeting at the Radlett Centre on 24 March 2011

UPDATE: I’ve added details of the campaign’s Twitter account.

The Radlett Centre was full to the doors for last night’s public meeting. And the WING anti-incinerator group‘s formidable package of information and political organisation went down well with the assembled crowd. The campaign has evident clout – what other campaign could attract two local MPs to a public meeting affecting constituents of only one? (correction: a comment points out the the Harper Lane site is actually in the constituency of Anne Main so this is clearly the concern of both MPs). Both spoke strongly against the scheme, questioning the legality of the local authority’s process as well as the usefulness of the scheme and its potential impact on the village. Calls from the floor for disclosure of the contact details of all the Hertfordshire councillors involved in the decision met with raucous approval. As did the suggestion that those of us who buy our electricity from E.ON, the Radlett scheme’s sponsor, should switch to another supplier.

There is much anger about the incinerator – at least amongst those represented in the room. But it’s not clear how much opposition there is in the wider community for a scheme that, if built, will occupy a former aggregate yard a mile from the village. If I were a councillor on the relevant committee I’d have my tin hat at the ready right now.

The WING group has a Facebook page and a blog and is on Twitter. The organisers are cleverly mobilising environmental opposition to incinerators in general for the campaign – there are plenty of useful links on the blog. There doesn’t seem to be a hashtag for the campaign yet but I’m sure one will emerge.

Daniel Renak from the Joely Bear Appeal at Fair Field school

Fair Field Junior School on Watford Road was buzzing today. Daniel Renak, one of the organisers of the Joely Bear Appeal‘s regular blood donor sessions, was expecting 150 people to come through the school to give blood during the session. There was a bouncy castle for donors’ children and the kitchen was turned over to catering for donors while they wait (and for the vital post-donation biscuit). I spoke to Daniel about the history of the appeal and plans for the fiftieth donor session, to be held in Borehamwood in the Summer.

The Joely Bear Appeal is on the web and on Facebook. There are more pictures from the session on Flickr.

This, by the way, is the first entry in the new Radlett Wire podcast. While we wait for the podcast to show up in the iTunes directory, you can subscribe directly using this feed or just play the audio here:

Download the MP3.

A new convenience store on Watling Street

We’ve been dropping into the new shop in the Oakway parade on Watling Street since before Christmas so this is a belated welcome to owner Ali Sumbul (pictured) and his family who run the shop. Staff are terrifically friendly and have the entirely charming habit of noting down the things you’re after that they don’t have in stock so that they can get them in for your next visit.

Retail is pretty brutal at the best of times but whenever a new shop opens in this grim climate I find myself crossing my fingers. Ali’s chosen an unpromising stretch of Watling Street which has seen more than its fair share of closures but his shop is open all hours and serves the Northern end of the village that’s a good walk from Tesco and Budgen so he stands a chance of making a success of it. I do hope so!